The five premier motor shows of 2010 — Detroit, Geneva, Beijing, Paris and LA — carried the same optimistic theme this year: unmistakable signs of a hard-earned revival in the car industry’s fortunes, based on manufacturers' realisation that they have to make better cars quicker, and find ideal customers for them in a fast-changing market.
Their achievement is that the free-fall of 2008 is well and truly arrested, and that a sales double-dip predicted by some for the past six months hasn’t really happened.
In Britain, Goodwood came up with the newest, freshest approach to motor shows in several deades: the inaugural Moving Motor Show, which invited manufacturers to the famous South Coast estate in bulk, and invited them to demonstrate their newest products on a five-mile private route. Despite teething troubles, it was pronounced a great success – to the extent that some at Goodwood are already talking of adding another day to the event.
The Detroit show in January started in tentative style, with the launch of several ultra-practical “squashed SUV” crossover products, but it was lightened by early glimpses of Ford’s new Focus models and gathering evidence that Ford (the only one of America’s Big Three that hadn’t needed huge government loans) was heading not only for profits again, but the sustainable kind.
By the time we reached the Geneva show, in March, impressive new models were upon us. The Focus had its European debut, Alfa Romeo showed Giulietta, its best car for many years, and Porsche trumped everyone with the 918 Spyder, a supercar (already slated for production) that showed how range-extended electric cars could be the enthusiast’s cars of tomorrow.